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The Internet Wireless Networking Network News

Free Wi-Fi: the Movement To Give Away Your Internet For the Good of Humanity 505

Posted by Soulskill
from the leeching-is-bad-form dept.
pigrabbitbear writes "We are strangely territorial when it comes to our wireless networks. The idea of someone siphoning off our precious bandwidth without paying for it is, for most people, completely unacceptable. But the Open Wireless Movement wants to change all that. 'We are trying to create a movement where people are willing to share their network for the common good,' says Adi Kamdar, an activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. 'It's a neighborly thing to do.' That's right, upstanding citizen of the Internet, you can be a good neighbor just by opening your wireless network to strangers — or so the line goes. The ultimate vision is one of neighborhoods completely void of passwords, where any passerby can quickly jump on your network and use Google Maps to find directions or check their email or do whatever they want to do (or, whatever you decide they can do)."
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Free Wi-Fi: the Movement To Give Away Your Internet For the Good of Humanity

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  • Bad idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @02:43PM (#42741025)

    Someone finds and an open WiFi, DL's some CP, you get the blame. One of the many reasons they can have my Cat 5e when they pry it from my cold dead fingers.

  • Open network? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dins (2538550) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @02:43PM (#42741027)
    Sure, I'd be more than happy to open my wifi network...if it meant I wasn't going to be liable for what a guest does on it....
  • by MyDixieWrecked (548719) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @02:49PM (#42741151) Homepage Journal

    If I decided to do this, I would need to operate my LAN like every node was bare on the internet. I've got fileservers with guest access (for, you know... houseguests), web services, my invoicing system, and a whole slew of other personal services. The thought of open wifi on the LAN kinda scares me from a security perspective.

    Given that the majority of people out there aren't security conscious, there are all kinds of implications for keeping default router settings/passwords.

    When I was staying in the Oakwoods in Burbank, CA for work (long-term housing, like... for months), I could see every machine on the LAN and all of the windows machines had read-only filesharing on, so I was able to loot up on all kinds of raunchy porn that people downloaded from limewire. One guy even had a bunch of tax documents in a shared folder. This included a PDF of the lease on his lexus, and some credit card statements. Another guy had 8GB of photos of his kids and family.

    Shit can be dangerous out there if you're not careful.

  • Re:Hypocrite (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lister king of smeg (2481612) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:00PM (#42741351)

    Im giving them net access for free the telecoms are being paid for access to the net big deifference.

  • by inputdev (1252080) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:00PM (#42741353)

    Another guy had 8GB of photos of his kids and family.

    You don't sound like you were trying to be malicious, but didn't you consider not snooping on other peoples machines? I still like the idea of having unlocked doors and not needing security systems on houses, etc. I expect other people to have a moral compass and not walk in and go through my stuff. I get your point, but I wish you would elevate your mentality to where you aren't violating peoples privacy and feeling justified because they didn't actively prevent you from doing it.

  • Re:Open network? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:04PM (#42741423)

    You've really got two problems to deal with. The civil liability, and the criminal prosecutions. The first gets you in trouble for all the copyright infringement, the latter the downloading of child porn. That's a particular concern, because the usual social approach to child porn is 'Hang the perverted monster.' Even if you can prove beyond all doubt that it was someone else, a hard thing to do, you'll still find that your name is dirt, no company will hire even an accused pedophile, and your neighbours start smashing your windows in an effort to make you leave.

  • by macemoneta (154740) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:06PM (#42741445) Homepage

    In order to do this without exposing your LAN to security issues, and not create liability issues because of the action of guests, it would require more setup than most end-users are capable of.

    The WiFi interface would have to be kept separate (not bridged to the LAN), and the WiFi interface would have to be VPN'd to a (legally) safe termination. If companies want users to be able to use open WiFi, they need to step up to make this a default configuration on routers. Sure, those that use openwrt or dd-wrt can configure this, but there's a vanishingly small percentage of users with that skill set.

  • by dpilot (134227) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:13PM (#42741575) Homepage Journal

    Mod this up. Comcast is the same as ATT, in this respect.

    I'm rather surprised that only one A.C. mentions TOS. I was about to, but I was scanning the comments looking to see if anyone else had. In all of the comments you're the only one. Most of the comments were concerned about the MafiAA, kiddie pr0n, and loss of bandwidth.

    But TOS is a civil matter. Share your connection and they're entitled to cut you off.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:18PM (#42741633)

    That does not protect you from searches, equipment confiscations, privacy invading investigations and high legal costs for defending yourself. But yeah, after 2 sleepless years you will be acquitted. great.
    There was a time when "presumed innocent" used to mean something. Not anymore.

  • Re:Bad idea. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Synerg1y (2169962) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:24PM (#42741745)
    They'd make open wifi networks illegal for those very reasons with the way things are going now.
  • Re:Open network? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Mattern (191822) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:27PM (#42741779)

    Frankly, I don't give a damn if no one's been *successfully* prosecuted. Getting involved in a court case--even successfully--is a nightmare timesink, and I won't risk it.

    What usually happens is the police bust down your door, confiscate all your computers and you maybe get them back 18 months later after spending a small fortune on legal fees.

    Exactly. When you can tell me that won't happen, I might consider it.

  • Re:Bad idea. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dbet (1607261) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:29PM (#42741811)
    If that's the case, why isn't every Starbucks shut down for facilitating CP downloads? I think it's a fear that's blown far out of proportion. The most likely negative of sharing wifi is the person maxing out your bandwidth with Netflix downloads.
  • Re:Bad idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Obfuscant (592200) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:35PM (#42741893)

    Easy to fix. If you want to access someone's WiFi, you log into the proxy server on that network.

    What is the practical difference between "closed wifi" and "open wifi with a mandatory log-in"? In both cases you must obtain a credential (and thus implied permission) to use the network. You've just moved the access limit from the radio to the wire side.

    In general, though, the reason this movement will fail is the same reason why people want it to work. Selfishness. The same person that says "I would like to have wifi without paying for it when I am somewhere not home" has already said "I don't want to pay for my own 3g/data plan so I can have network access when I am not home". That same attitude would result in "why should I pay for network at home if I can get it free from my neighbor".

    In the final result, everyone who wants free wifi wherever they go will be the ones who are least likely to provide free wifi to others, and that means the entire system is a self-fulfilling failure.

    If you notice, most of the free wifi you find is not from altruistic people, it is from businesses that want to lure you into their establishment so you'll be likely to buy things from them. Profit motive. The altruist who opens his home network to free wifi for others has no profit motive, and while it is wonderful he exists, there is no incentive other than personal pleasure for him to do it. He can't depend on it being repaid, and he can't depend on it not being abused.

  • Re:Bad idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rarumberger (2708801) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:52PM (#42742101)
    Maybe so. Let's imagine a scenario:

    Cops determine that someone has been downloading CP, and trace it back to your house. They launch an immediate investigation, with you as the obvious prime suspect. They're aware that they can't prosecute on IP alone, so they do their diligence, and after searching your seized devices, they exonerate you. Publicly, even.

    You still lose your family and your job, and your life is basically over, because your name once appeared in a report investigating kiddy pr0n. You will be personally threatened, maybe even assaulted, by vigilantes who want to "protect" their children from "monsters" like you. There is literally no amount of public exoneration that will make the average Joe believe you're not a pervert.

    Me? I'd rather just keep my wireless secure.
  • by CityZen (464761) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:58PM (#42742177) Homepage

    Rather than have all these individual routers competing for air space with each other, it would be even better if they cooperated with each other to route packets and let clients roam from one to another.

    Just like we graduated from lots of individual BBS's to the Internet, we need to make similar progress at the "consumer" end.

    The technology is already present; all that's needed is support.

  • Re:Bad idea. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @04:25PM (#42742597) Journal

    That's easy, and all in how the media reports it on the local evening news:

    1) "Child porn was downloaded repeatedly at a local Starbucks" - Translation? Viewer thinks that some pervert went to a Starbucks and downloaded CP, thus Starbucks is not to blame.

    2) "Child porn was downloaded repeatedly at the home of a local resident" - Translation? Viewer thinks that *you*, the homeowner, are the pervert. Enough said, no?

  • Re:Bad idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PraiseBob (1923958) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @04:28PM (#42742663)
    there is no incentive other than personal pleasure for him to do it

    Personal pleasure can also encompass the joys of harvesting passwords, accounts, personal information & private pictures...
  • Re:Bad idea. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DarwinSurvivor (1752106) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @04:32PM (#42742731)
    You do know that the ISP's keep logs of WHEN that IP was assigned to which house right? All the MPAA/RIAA/whoever has to do is ask who had the IP at a given time.

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